Open government is not merely an option, Silicon Valley’s Irish CIO to tell public sector

13 Oct 2012

Irish native and CIO of the city of Palo Alto, California, Dr Jonathan Reichental

The Irish CIO of the city of Palo Alto, California – the city that is home to tech giants Apple, Facebook, HP, Google and Yahoo! – is set to warn Irish public-sector IT bosses that it would be folly to attempt to hold back the waves of transparency and openness heralded by the revolutions in open data and open government.

Irish native Dr Jonathan Reichental will be addressing the 8th Annual Public Sector IT conference on 24 October, organised by the Irish Computer Society.

The City of Palo Alto is synonymous with Silicon Valley, being home to the headquarters and founders of companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, HP and Apple.

Last year, Reichental surpassed close to 150 applicants for the new position, which he assumed in December.

“There is no doubt that governments across the world face significant challenges. These include flat or declining revenues and increasing community needs and expectations.

“Our citizens want to be more engaged in the decision-making and delivery of government services. They also desire an open government that is participatory and accountable through transparency.”

Silicon Valley’s CIO

Reichental is a technologist with two decades in software design and a resume that includes stints at O’Reilly Media, PricewaterhouseCoopers and TEDx talks on digital privacy. He has contributed his thoughts on technology to NPR, CNBC and Forbes amongst other highly acclaimed publications.

In his current role for the City of Palo Alto he is focusing on modernising the existing technology environment, implementing enhancements to the citywide SAP implementation, as well as pushing the boundaries of innovation in local government such as open data and broader civic participation through mobile devices. He also informally advises several technology start-ups and is engaged in a variety of charity efforts in Silicon Valley.  

Forward-thinking government

Speaking on the crucial role technology and innovation must play in the public sector, Reichental said: “This is the time to drive significant innovation in the public sector. It’s not an option.

“We’ve got to rethink everything and technology will play a core role.

“A forward-thinking technology strategy must quickly rise to the top of the priority list for all government leaders,” Reichental urged.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years